Street Life: Interview Malik
Elspeth: Tell me when this all started for you ... your writing.
Malik: My writing started when I was about twelve, thirteen years. I started writing poetry as a form of therapy ... to express myself.
E: What inspired you at that age? What things did you write about, mainly?
M: A lot of stuff I wrote about was how I felt as a person. You know ... because of the secondary school I went to as well. I went Morvant Laventille and there was a lot of negativity around there. So I used to use the poetry as a way to express myself.
E: Commenting on the negativity or looking for solutions?
M: Actually, a little bit of both. Commenting and talking about the solution itself. Like talking about love and talking about depression.
E: How did you move from "paper" to "people"? How did your poetry move from being a private thing to being a public thing?
M: Well actually I think it was when I was about fifteen. I listened to a lot of reggae music, a lot of conscious music ... like Sizzla and Capleton. More or less I used to chant and thing when I was in school. I used to be doing that and singing for my friends and stuff. Just for fun and just for games ... you know, just do it just to get a laugh ... and the girls ... the music is all in that.
E: And then you got involved with the Circle of Poets?
M: Circle of Poets came long after. Circle of Poets came roughly about 2000, but I got into hip hop. The reason why ... I started doing rap ... because somewhere around '98/'99 the dancehall music or the reggae music to me wasn't appealing as such. I find the lyrical content - to me - it had just dropped, so I wanted something more attached to me to actually say exactly what yuh mean ... so that's how I got into hip hop, to actually express and say this is what's going on, so-so-so is the case and this is why I'm doing what I'm doing now.
E: But what is it about Hip Hop in particular that draws you to that particular form of expression? Hip Hop as opposed to, let's say, rock music.
M: Well ... to tell you the truth, I'm not really a rock fan. (Laughing) But hip hop is just the beats ... sometimes they catch you with the beats ... and rap itself is rhythm like American poetry ... that's exactly what rap is. Hip hop is the style, rap is what you do. You know rapping is a way ... just expressing you. You know every rapper has a different accent, every rapper have a different way he phrases words - that talks about who you are ... if you're real, if you're fake or if you're just trying to be everyone else.
E: Okay. Tell me about Street Life.
M: Well Street Life - this is basically one of the songs that has a lot of meaning to me. It touches on a lot of stuff on domestic violence, abuse - well, child abuse - it touches on suicide, gang-related violence. You know, just a way for me to put it across and express it through a poetry style. That's basically what Street Life is ... talking about what goes on in the streets. But you know when people hear about "street life" they think about bang bang, shoot-up, gangster type ... but it isn't about that. It's about what goes on in the street, but not really focusing on the negativity, but actually giving you solutions.
E: What do you hope to achieve from having done the video?
M: Well, hoping to achieve a lot more exposure through this. My album is supposed to be coming out soon, so that song would be on the album. A lot of recognition to my producer, Navid Lancaster ... and to the editor and director, Elspeth Duncan ... you know? (chuckling) She's very deep in her thoughts. Probably just really being bold and being cocky and being full of myself. Probably leaving the country and doing a couple of shows in England and all about (more chuckling) ... and making a lot of money.
E: Why not? Let's hope we all do!
M: Yeah ... you have to speak it into being, more or less.
E: Okay, great. Any message to anyone who may be tuning in? Any message you would like to project as Malik?
M: Malik is ... always original, writing from the heart. Do what you do ... no-one could do you ... just do you to the best and always keep God first.